Gift giving is easy as ABC
December 14, 2007
Trailside Elementary School fifth-grader Abigail Godinez unfolds a piece of cloth revealing paper cutout circles, "See," she says, "it’s fruit." Godinez is constructing her ABC book, which all three fifth-grade classes are working on to give to the four first-grade classes. The fifth graders will read the books to the first graders and present them as gifts on Tuesday from 12:30 to 1 p.m. in the first-grade kiva.
"I’m excited to see their smiling faces," Godinez said. Her project is about Mexican food. Each page of the book has an envelope with the food represented on that page inside. She said she got the idea from a book where you write a letter to put inside each envelope.
Fifth-grade teacher, Lorrie Mirams, said one of the things she likes about this project is that it’s so individualized. "The kids really get a sense of pride out of this," she said. Students picked out their own topic and did research to make sure each word they chose for the letters fit with the theme of the book.
The students also had their choice of just about any material they could imagine for making the books, from cloth and wrapping paper to stickers and yarn. Finding the right materials was hard for fifth-grader Chase Flinders, but he ended up deciding on cardboard for the cover, decorating it in cloth and gluing red paper on the inside so it looked just like a real book.
Others, like fifth-grader Lirio Sanchez, used lots of cloth and yarn so the first-graders would want to touch the book. That’s also why fifth-grader Grant Manley chose to cover his book in white fur. "I thought they would really like the feel of it," he said.
Mirams said that between the research, the writing and the editing, they’ve been working on the books for about three weeks, for an hour each day, Monday through Thursday.
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Fifth-grade teacher Michelle Owens, whose class is also making ABC books, said the students had to use at least seven sources for research and that there were five check points for the project, two of which were marked off by her, and the rest were evaluated by parents.
For Godinez, thinking about what theme to do and figuring out what pictures to use were challenges. Fifth-grader Terin Ewing found researching what different words mean and how to spell them was a difficult part of the assignment.
"The students are working on their writing skills and learning how to gear them to a specific audience," Mirams said. "So, in this case, they’re targeting their writing just for first graders."
For fifth-grader Sean Mellin, the fact that they are making these books for the first-graders is the best part of the project. "Giving it to the first graders is what I’m really looking forward to because they’ll be really excited to get a new book, especially because it’s homemade," he said.
Giving it to the first-grade classes really helps the students in learning how to take pride in their work, Owen said. "They really go back because they know someone is going to be given this," she said. "This is the most focused they’ve been all year."
Fifth-grader Jenna Peers said she really enjoys the time they get to spend each day on the project. "It’s nice to get to be creative and do our own thing," she said. Peers decided to put a 3D object on each page of her book.
Students could choose to draw their own pictures or use stickers or get pictures from the Internet. Fifth-grader Randy Crabb said the hardest part about making the ABC book for him was finding pictures to use online. While for Sanchez, whose book is about Mexican celebrations, drawing the pictures was the best part.
Sanchez’s favorite letter in her book is G, which stands for Guadalupe, the Virgin Mary. Sanchez said she celebrated Guadalupe’s feast day on Wednesday in church.
Another student who made a book related to his heritage was Nathan Kunz. He created an accordion-style book about Swedish food. "I am part Swedish and have always wanted to learn about Swedish foods, so this seemed like a great opportunity," he said.
As students worked, soft music played in the background of Mirams’ classroom. She said working on this project "is good for calming them. Things are always so crazy this time of year.
"It’s going to be really fun to see them give it away and read to the first graders. It’s just such an accomplishment."
Owen feels like the ABC books are a one-of-a-kind type of assignment. "The students get to create a nice final product that they can be proud of," she said. "And it uses real-world applications by writing it and giving it as a gift."